Draft 2019: Top 5 Linebackers
Host Trent Fye, alongside analysts Jeremy Ganes, Derek Heid, and Andrew Field discuss in-depth about their top five linebackers in this years NFL Draft:
The 2019 NFL draft is without a doubt a defensive draft. Heading into Draft Day, any organization in need of restructuring their defense will want to keep their eye out for the top picks in each position, especially if their team is in need of a linebacker.
The linebackers are the quarterback of the defense. They call the formations, shift the defense, and are the representative of the defensive coordinator. Linebackers have to be the biggest, fastest, and strongest athletes on the field. They drop in coverage, pass rush, take linemen head on and tight ends in pass coverage. Without a solid linebacker, there is a hole in the defense.
With that being said, let’s get into the top five linebackers in this year's draft:
5. Joe Dineen, Kansas
He doesn’t show up in the top five in either ESPN rankings or CBS rankings, but he worked his way to becoming a draftable linebacker. Dineen leads the league with 108 solo tackles and was the only player to record triple-digit solo tackles. In his last two years at Kansas, he recorded 275 total tackles and 32.5 tackles for loss.
Right now Dineen sits at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, which is a prototypical size of a linebacker. He’s got great range and can run from sideline to sideline. While he's not afraid to plug a hole and lay a big hit, Dineen doesn’t show much in passing coverage and that will ultimately be his downfall if not worked on. He ran a 40-yard dash of 4.78, which is on the lower end but not a bad number.
Expect Dineen to go undrafted or go in a later round, but look out for him to make an impact in the NFL.
4. Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame
Te’Von Coney was the centerpiece of a Notre Dame defense that was 13th in the country in overall defense. He helped lead Notre Dame to the college football playoff semi-finals.
Coney totaled 123 tackles his senior year, totaled 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, and four pass breakups. Coney has the stats to go with his draft hype. He didn’t perform well in the senior bowl, but it should not affect his draft stock to much. His 40-yard dash clocked in at 4.60, which is a good time.
At 6 feet, Coney weighs in at 234 pounds, which is short for a linebacker but the size is certainly there. Ray Lewis and Sam Mills, for example, have shown that height doesn’t matter all that much.
Expect Coney to go in the second or third round.
3. Mack Wilson, Alabama
The top three will be more of a consensus, starting with Wilson. Mack Wilson played on an Alabama squad that routinely produces top defensive talent. As a junior, he totaled 71 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and five pass breakups. He also collected four interceptions his sophomore season.
Wilson ran a 40-yard dash of 4.79, which isn’t great, but it's not bad either. Right now he sits at 6 foot 1 and 240 pounds, which is a great size for a linebacker. He is very hard to block and can run sideline to sideline, but he’s not much of a threat blowing up a play. In the last two season, Wilson only had seven tackles for a loss.
Expect him to go in round two or three.
2. Devin Bush, Michigan
Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten was Michigan's Devin Bush. Bush is one of the best when it comes to running sideline to sideline and he was described as the best linebacker coach Don Brown has ever coached.
Bush totaled 67 tackles, five sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and four passes defended. He sat out Michigan’s BCS Bowl game against Florida, which made a big impact on a Michigan team who couldn’t stop the plays that Bush could usually contain.
Adding to an already impressive resume, Bush's 40-yard dash came in at 4.43. That’s as fast, if not faster, than most cornerbacks.
What's even more mindblowing is his size. Bush comes in at 5 foot 11 and 234 pounds. Undersized in terms of height but, as discussed before, if you are a skilled athlete, your height shouldn’t be a factor. Bush can stretch the field, play run-defense and pass-defense. He’s got the whole package.
Expect Devin Bush to go in the first round. He is a rare athlete at that position.
1. Devin White, LSU
Arguably the number one overall linebacker in the draft is Devin White. LSU year-in and year-out produce top defensive talent, especially defensive backs, but this year their number one athlete is a linebacker.
White had an outstanding sophomore and junior season. He totaled 256 total tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash.
On the field, White can cover sideline to sideline, drop into pass coverage, and wreck a play at the line if it is called for. He is a defensive player to build around and a once-in-a-generation type linebacker. Devin White also played in LSU’s BCS Bowl game against UCF, making an impact with eight tackles and a pass breakup.
Expect Devin White to go in the first round if not the top 10 overall.
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Josh Allen would no doubt be a top three linebacker, having won Defensive Player of the Year, but he will most likely make the transition to putting his hand in the dirt with his size and pass rush abilities.
Tre Lamar, Clemson
In most draft boards he would be a top-five linebacker but look past the big program background. Lamar is without a doubt a top 10 linebacker and most should expect him to go in round three at the latest. He made a big impact in the National Championship run, where he recorded six tackles against Alabama.
Germaine Pratt, NC State
Germaine Pratt worked his way into the draft with his elite speed and range. His 40-yard dash time clocked in at a 4.57, which bolstered his stock. He can run sideline to sideline and is great in run defense.
Koa Farmer, Penn State
Not ranked in the top 400 in the draft, most likely Koa Farmer will go undrafted. Overshadowed by star freshman Micah Parsons toward the end, Farmer had a solid career at Penn State transitioning from safety to linebacker, like Derek Hodges did, and was a solid rotation linebacker.
Farmer's senior season was underwhelming and he didn’t show much promise. He did have an excellent 40-yard dash time of 4.48, which all but forced scouts to take notice. On bench press, he put up 25 reps. The 6 foot 1, 228-pounder may not get picked up in the draft, but it should be interesting to see where he goes next year if he gets the chance.
Trent Fye is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him, email email@example.com.